ne of the stunning things about Ken Farnham’s FEC layout is how busy the main yard is. San Diego’s La Mesa club might have three to five engines moving across their Bakersfield Yard (and it’s, I dunno, 150 feet long?). But Ken’s is inside a small shed with the yardmaster, the classification crew, the trim operator, the hostler all working, even with one or two mainline trains transitioning the limits. The yard throat is a happening place.
Today what made it cool for me was that I was working classification, breaking down arrivals, and the next track over wife JB (the yardmaster) was moving trains into position down the departure lead. It was fun to see her dialing up locomotive and rolling the trains up with the gentle coaxing that pros use. She really kept things moving.
The session itself ran pretty well. I can’t speak for the road crews but I know that the yard was working really tight, swapping cuts back and forth, breaking down old trains and building up new ones. At any given time the departure tracks were waiting for crews to take the movements out onto the high iron. And other than when I got swamped at the end, there was never a delay in receiving inbounds. The yard group kept the railroad running.
But I gotta say, the slickest move of the day goes to Ken, the owner and, in this case, the dispatcher. He bought two trains into the yard in parallel, a general freight down the traditional main and a coal drag into the receiving yard. I looked over and suddenly there was a wall of inbounds! Stunning. So I had to drop everything, get clear, take the coal down the classification throat and then (once reporting him backed down and clear) run down to the other end of the yard as the hostler cleared to pull the arrived train back upyard for breakdown.
It was quite a busy day and we had a great time with it. Thanks, Ken!